February 26, 2007
He Blinded Me With Science (or Why I Watch Those Geeky Sci-Fi/Fantasy T.V. Shows)
Recently, as I was enthusing about my obsessive love of all things Battlestar Galatica, someone asked, "Why do you waste your time on that weirdo, geeky, sci-fi crap?"

Which got me to thinking, why DO I "waste" my time on that weird, geeky, sci-fi (and fantasy) crap?

Well, for starters, the story lines. From a writer's perspective--and a writer that dabbles in scriptwriting at that--MOST (and by most, I mean the fantasy/sci-fi T.V. shows that I watch which are usually chosen (and viewed) a la Netflix after careful review, a process that includes recommendations and scouring the Internet for information before actually ordering the damn things) shows have amazingly complicated story lines. No, I don't mean they're hard to follow--although, on occasion they are (Lost, anyone?) but rather that the story lines are multifaceted and woven together so that every single piece of information that the view could possibly want be it personal information about a character or the larger arch of the plot is revealed at just the right moment. There is nothing worse, call it the kiss of death if you will, then a Big Reveal that isn't actually a Big Reveal cause you saw it coming. Unless, of course, its a Big Reveal that makes absolutely no sense and was, clearly, included just for shock value. This falls under the category of Not Good.

In writing, I think that something that is frequently overlooked is the value of the minute detail. The minute detail is something that once introduced, needs to be carried out through out the entire course of a plot arch. It is these same minute details that often make the characters more rich and fully realized, more complicated and multi-dimensional vs. stereotypical and flat. For example, in Battlestar I love the fact that Starbuck is this bad -ass chick--she can hold her own in a fight as well as at the gambling table, has this very masculine habit of smoking stogies, flies Raptors better than any man, has a bit of an attitude problem--all things that, in a sense, have the potential of creating a stereotype: The anti-girl, a girl who is so bad-ass that she out bad-ass's the bad-asses. A lot of "strong" women characters fall into this trope--apparently, to make a woman strong, she must be more masculine then the actual men who she interacts with. Yet, on Battlestar, the writers manage to soften, if not feminize, this character through a few small details. Kara Thrace is devoutly religious (she prays to the Lords of Kobol on a few occasions, keeps what looks like little fertility statues statues of Athena and Artemis--greek goddesses of Wisdom and the Hunt/Fertility--in her footlocker), she is a painter (beautifully rendered in the episode "Valley of Darkness"), was close to her father (same episode--she listens to his music and takes only one item from her apartment: her father's jacket) and also may have been the victim of abuse (again, same episode and suggested ever-so-briefly via conversation). All of this is portrayed beautifully through minute details that, if you blinked or stopped listen or got busy doing something else in another room, you totally missed. What's neat about these little aspects, is that they're picked up again and again and again, they aren't just introduced and dropped, all "Hey look, this character's got some neat attributes that we're never going to bring up again." Rather, the writers occasionally re-sprinkle them through out the series, reinforcing those character traits. And thus, my friends, a truly full bodied character is born.

And what about those characters! And the worlds they inhabit! Sci-fiction, and to a lesser degree, fantasy (though, the two are not mutually exclusive of each other) offer us one of the (forgive the pun) final frontiers of exploration of not only places (i.e. space) but of human interaction. What will happen to a group of high school students if one of their own is tagged with super-human strength and near impossible mission to seek out and destroy the Big Bad? What happens to a group of people, the sole survivors of the human race, when they're forced to flee from the technology they created? Or, better yet, what happens when that technology becomes too human? What happens to a rag-tag group of space cowboys when they're forced to become reluctant heroes? As a creative mind, it amazes me how much of the new is poured into these characters and their predicaments--these stories are, after all, a reflection of our humanity now and the multitude of questions that encompass our existence: who are we? Where do we come from? Is there a higher power? Why are some people bad, and others good? What is "bad," "good"? How do we explain who and what we are? It amazes me and makes me incredibly jealous that these teams of uber creative people can address and express these questions (and so many others!) in a way that is not only entertaining, but thought provoking.

And if that isn't enough to convince you how about this:

I'm mean seriously, if you can't get into the the show itself, turn off the volume and watch these people just strut around... seriously. Number Six alone is just too, too sexy and who ever is the costume designer truly knows how to show off Tricia Helfer's body in just the right way.

Sidenote: And don't EVEN get me started on Buffy... or the cast of Firefly! I mean, talk about your truly character driven series... *sigh* Joss Whedon is a God...

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posted by Tina at 1:29 PM
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February 12, 2007
I Love My Little Darlings but...
Seriously, how hard is it to work the Internet? I consider myself pretty low on the All-Things-Technological scale (the irony of which does not escape me since I am teaching a class on technology and identity). HOWEVER, I do consider myself pretty smart and able to, by mere tooling around, figure out a lot of super easy things. Its like they come across super-easy aspects of technology and all the sudden their advance little brains are all "Error... Error. Does not compute. Does not compute" before their heads start spinning around and smoking and then combust. Or at least that's how I imagine it.

But seriously, this stuff is so easy that even I can do it. Stuff like inserting my name and page number in the upper right hand corner of a Word document per the conventions of MLA formatting. Or, how to (based on the little handy dandy button that just happens to be labeled so) upload attachments to WebCT. Or turn on the "Track Changes" button in a Word Document. I taught myself basic HTML for gods sakes!

My Little Darlings II (aka my WP121 Research Writing students) can't seem to figure this sh*t. For kids who can program an iPod and make movies digitally using their cell phones and some fancy smancy program, they sure as hell are really technologically stupid sometimes. I have this new working theory that the easier the technology is, the more stupid they are about it.

Disclaimer: I think my Little Darlings II are quite brilliant actually. They made some really good observations about William Gibson's Neuromancer in their papers--some of which I didn't even think about myself. So they're smart...

Back to the point. About a bazillion of them either called me or emailed me in a tizzy at 9:30 p.m. last night (their paper was due on WebCT by 10 p.m.) because they couldn't figure out how to do this, that, or the other thing. It literally gets to a point sometimes where I want to be like "Are you playin' me? Are you trying to work the system cause you're too lazy to figure it out yourself?" Cause that's the only logical excuse I can come up with as to why they can't figure out how to insert the page numbers in the header.


posted by Tina at 10:30 AM
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February 08, 2007
Netflix Strikes Back (aka Return of the Bad Juju)
So I sent bad juju to Netflix in this post. Apparently, they sent it back to me.

I recieved Disc 3 of Battlestar Galatica (Season 1) in the mail today, did the same stupid hopping, pig-squeal dance (no hot neighbor this time to witness my dorkiness) ran upstairs, fired up the DVD player and the Blue Screen of Death popped up with this lovely message: No Disc.

What the...?

I open and shut the DVD player, fire it up again and.... Blue Screen of Death: No Disc


I open the DVD player, take the disc out thinking that its dirty and....

And just so you can clearly see the damage that the Gods of Netflix have wroght on my Battlestar Galatica viewing delightfulness:

posted by Tina at 10:46 PM
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My Grandmother is...
The absolute cutest. I count myself incredibly lucky to have one and a half sets of grandparents left. A lot of people are not fortunate enough to have a set of people that dote on and care for them as much as mine do, as well as a set of people that embody as much knowledge and life experience. But back to the point...

My grandmother has been making me a new afghan--the old one had holes in it and was colors that didn't match anything I own--and finally finished it. She sent it via snail mail and it arrived a week ago. Along with it, she sent a cake pan and angel food cake mix for my sister's birthday cause that's her favorite kind. Note: My sister's birthday isn't until early April.

More perplexing, she sent a seed package of lettuce mix.

Naturally, it being the middle of winter with no sign of spring in sight, I was confused. And naturally, this confusion necessitated a call to the Grams for clarification.

Apparently, my delightful, wonderful, sweet Grandmother is convinced that the price of lettuce will sky rocket in the next couple of months. Why and how, you ask? She saw something on the Weather Channel that was talking about all the bizarre weather we've had in the past year, its link to global warming, and effects that it is going to have on the farming community. My Grandmother interpreted this to mean that my favorite category of food (salad--not lettuce, sillies!) is in danger of becoming outrageously expensive. Thus, the lettuce. I've been instructed to plant it on my windowsill and wait and see.

So far, I've got two little sprouts...

posted by Tina at 4:10 PM
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February 02, 2007
Sending Bad Juju to Netflix
Ok... by and large I LOVE Netflix. It allows me to not have, and more importantly (with the exceptions of the Food Network and The Discovery Channel), miss cable at all. Cause all the T.V. and movies that I could possibly want are delivered right to my mailbox. Really, quite an ingenious idea and I totally wish I had thought of it first.

Except for when things like this happen.

Yesterday I opened my mailbox to find the wonderfully delightful surprise of the Battlestar Galatica mini-series waiting for me. After much happy dancing--a truly awkward and retarded event that involves hopping from foot to foot, Netflix pressed to chest in a sweet, sweet embrace, while emitting a sound not unlike the the squeal of a baby pig (which, incidentally, my hot downstairs neighbor caught me in the middle of--doh!)--I ran upstairs for an afternoon of BSG rapture.

I should've known.

I pop the DVD in, walk out of the room while it loads to get a blanket, and come back to find...The Blue Screen of Death. For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, this is the screen that pops up on your T.V. as the DVD (presumably) loads. Usually its there for like 5 seconds and then happy previews pop up. When something goes awry and amok, this damn screen lingers and lingers while the damn player informs you that it is "loading."

I pop the DVD out, blow imagined particles off of it, and pop it back in to be greeted once again by The Blue Screen of Death. WTF, man! I pop the DVD out AGAIN, get a paper towel with some glass cleaner on it and wipe from the center to the outside (NEVER, Netflix informs one, wipe the DVD in a circular motion as this will only damage the surface). I figure, this has GOT to work, so, for a third time, I pop the DVD back in and wait expectantly for opening credit.

Blue Screen of Death.

I try, in vain, for the next 45 minutes to make the damn thing work. This is, after all, one of my days off/writing days and as I am well ahead on my thesis I had reserved the entire day for nothing but BSG goodness. Apparently Netflix thought otherwise.

Disgusted by multiple failed attempts to bring my beloved story up on my T.V. I contemplated briefly the merits of watching it on my computer. However, I quickly discarded that idea, as my computer has been a cranky b*tch as of late. So I reported the damn DVD damaged, packaged it up and sent it back with a few silently uttered oaths (may the fleas of a thousand camels infest the slippers of all Netflix executives).

The only reason this seriously pissed me off is the fact that I had SET ASIDE special this entire day to watch disc one and two of BSG. Let me tell you, that takes some careful planning and coordination to make sure that the DVD is there on the right day! I had waited in extreme anticipation for 48 hours for the damn disc to get to me and then its broken. I couldn't even productively write for the rest of the day because I was so bitter about the fact I wasn't watching Battlestar Galatica. And this isn't the first time this has happened to me. I still have no idea what happens in The Island because I missed 20 minutes in the middle of it and it repeatedly skipped at the end, thus pissing me off enough that I just returned the damn disc to Netflix. And then lets not forget the time I received a disc... in two pieces. But mostly I'm just bitter that I've got to wait until potentially Saturday to find out how the whole story begins.


posted by Tina at 1:02 PM
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February 01, 2007
Thirteen Favorite Quotes From Strong Women

I'm borrowing this idea from Sarah over at Still Life with Soup Can. I haven't done one of these things in awhile and I think I might do a series for this month: Thirteen Favorite Quotes, Thirteen Favorite Movie Lines, Thirteen Favorite Book Quotes, Thirteen Favorite Lyrics... you get the picture.

This week is Thirteen Favorite Quotes from Strong Women. As of late, I think I've spend too much time dwelling on men and their affect on my life and have forgotten that I am a strong, capable women. This sampling of quotes come from a diverse group of women and inspire me in different ways--some strike home and rouse something deep inside, others make me laugh. I hope they do the same for you.

  1. It is easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant. (Ella Winter, And Not to Yeild, 1966)

  2. Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer, but wish we didn't. (Erica Jong, How to Save Your Own Life, 1977)

  3. A sex symbol becomes a thing. I hate being a thing. (Marilyn Monroe)

  4. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. (Anias Nin, The Diary of Anias Nin, 1974)

  5. I dream that love without tyranny is possible. (Andrea Dworkin, The Woman Who Lost Her Names, 1980)

  6. We can do no great things--only small things with great love. (Mother Teresa)

  7. Sisters are probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship. (Margaret Mead in Elizabeth Fishel's Sisters, 1979)

  8. If women understand emancipation as the adodption of the masculine then we are lost indeed. (Germaine Greer, The Female Eunich, 1970)

  9. If beauty is truth, why don't women go to the library to get their hair done? (Lily Tomlin)

  10. The creative impulse, like love, can be killed, but it can not be taught. (Madeline L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet, 1972)

  11. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself. (J.K. Rowling, The Sorcerer's Stone, 1998)

  12. Better to be without logic than without feeling. (Emily Bronte, The Professor, 1846)

  13. Grief can't be shared. Everyone carries it alone, his own burden, his own way. (Anne Morrow Lindhberg, Dearly Beloved, 1962)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged!

posted by Tina at 1:01 PM
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